August 2008 Archives

I suspect the last day of flowering (pollen shedding) in the common garden was yesterday. I won't be totally certain until the snow falls, but here's the full story... Dwight observed eight heads on Friday the 29th. Two of them were shedding pollen and each had two immature florets. Today, I observed them all again. Neither of the of the two normal heads shed pollen. One head was obviously done and the other (40-943.5-yel) has one immature floret. I suspect that that one immature floret will not mature, but I may be wrong.

Six heads are still in the bud/dud stage. They haven't yet started to flower and they don't look like they will. But, I may be wrong.

I will report on the flowering status and post a complete flowering schedule within a few days. I will also recap the final week of team Echinacea--we had an awesome finale. But first I need to catch up on sleep and harvest some heads tomorrow. The forecast is for winds 25 - 30 mph and gusts to 41 mph.

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This is the last week with Team Echinacea this summer. We still have some plants to measure in the common garden experiment and there are still some plants flowering. We'll get this done! Our main plan this week is to visit plants in the prairie remnants to see if they are alive. Last week we made a good start, but got rained out on Friday and the previous Monday (over 3" of rain).

We've been to 4 remnant Echinacea populations and refound the seedlings that we identified & mapped in May or June. We have 8 remnants to visit this week. Our maps have worked quite well--we have found almost all of the locations and the majority of seedlings were still alive.

We also have to map the new flowering plants in our remnants and note which old plants are flowering this year. That's a big job and we are making progress. We won't finish all the sites, so we'll have to come back this fall. But I hope we can finish up all of the big sites.

Assessing the survival and reproduction of Echinacea plants is important for understanding the population dynamics of these remnant populations. We want to know if the populations are growing (and perhaps expanding), holding their own, or shrinking (and perhaps heading toward local extinction).

We call our visits to remnants to find and refind plants "demography," or demo for short. We call mapping the plants surveying because we use a survey station.

Click here to read our equipment list:

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Our excellent photographer, Christine, took some awesome photos of plants at the landfill. I'll update the scientific names when I get them identified.

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Today was the fourth collecting trip to the Pope-Douglas County landfill. What a beautiful day for collecting! And what diversity! There were many new plants I had not seen, some that have yet to begin flowering. I lament not being able to stay longer and collect more. I'm sure I could add 50 more species. I'll definitely be back next year and start earlier to get a full species list for the site. For those of you who have missed out on seeing some of the fascinating plants out there, pictures from today's collecting trip, courtesy of Christine, will be forthcoming. As for the collections (including a nettle that still has my thumb stinging), I made 27 collections, including big bluestem, side-oats gramma, dahlia, onion, honeysuckle, sage, ragweed, goat's beard, milkweed, sweet clover, golden alexander, and goldenrod. Who knew I'd ever make visiting a landfill a habit?

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Hey team Echinacea,
Lani and Denise officially finished their REU internships last Friday and are both back in the California bay area. They both worked really hard on their projects and ended up with some really neat studies. At the end of their internship they created and presented a poster for a research symposium. Their posters turned out really well and I wanted to share them with you. Below are links to each of their posters...enjoy!
Lani's poster: Download file
Denise's poster: Download file

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This summer, a very large portion of our lives has been devoted to that Purple Coneflower, Echinacea. This plant has infused itself into our conversations, dreams, birthday cards (my little sister has one coming with a bee and a purple flower,) and yes, baking.

Can you guess what these are?

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Seedling cupcakes with vegan chocolate earth, marzipan greens, and sprinkles for the pubescence. Megan's idea.

What about this?

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Why, that is an Echinacea leaf chocolate chip cookie, of course.

Even if we cannot eat the Echinacea, at least it inspires us to bake delicious desserts :).

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